Whether they meant to or not, the three federal judges overseeing the state’s redistricting litigation have already decided the maps are legal enough for three general elections. But they have never finally resolved all of the challenges initially made to Texas’ political maps back in May 2011, when lawyers who believe the maps are discriminatory and unfair went to court seeking a remedy. That’s what the courts are for, after all — to protect one party from harming another party. Or maybe that’s to protect one political party from harming another political party. The three-judge panel in charge of the case appears to be stuck; they have not acted since a hearing in 2014. And now that another election has passed, those lawyers ended 2016 with a new plea, asking the judges to wrap up their work by mid-month. In their filing last week, the lawyers wrote that they hope to get a ruling in time to finish this court fight before another federal census is done and another set of maps has been drawn by a Legislature that might have been elected using unfair political lines.
Without saying outright that the court has been working the clock, the groups suing the state are saying that the court has been working the clock.
“It has been 2,063 days since the filing of this lawsuit. It has been 1,748 days since this Court ordered its second interim maps,” they wrote. “It has been 758 days since final post trial briefing was filed in this cause. In the ensuing elections, more than 19 million votes have been cast in Texas general elections using maps that plaintiffs contend violate the United States Constitution and federal law.”